I suspected going in to today’s essay by Charles Krauthammer that it was little more than propaganda for John McCain. I was right, but I’m going to ignore that, at least initially. First, Krauthammer has to knock down Barack Obama. Referring to Hillary Clinton’s 3 a.m. ad:
After months of fruitlessly shadowboxing an ethereal opponent made up of equal parts hope, rhetoric and enthusiasm, Clinton had finally made contact with the enemy. The doubts she raised created just enough buyer’s remorse to persuade Democrats on Tuesday to not yet close the sale on the mysterious stranger.
The only way either Clinton or John McCain can defeat an opponent as dazzlingly new and fresh as Obama is to ask: Do you really know this guy?
I think the ad was ridiculous because I’m willing to question the attacked and the attacker. Krauthammer thinks it was “brilliant”. But I understand that not all voters care enough to question beyond the superficial. Analyzing it further would be a digression.
The problem here is familiarity, as suggested. However, I’m familiar with Clinton and McCain. They’re both despicable, career power-seekers. If forced to vote among the three remaining candidates, I’ll take my chances with the unknown and count on the checks-and-balances built into the system. We’ve survived bad presidents before. We’re surviving one now. I just wouldn’t willingly vote for one.
Note: If the Constitutional checks-and-balances fail and President Obama is dangerous, individuals like Mr. Krauthammer who blindly supported their erasure over the previous seven years must answer for their culpability in the matter. It will happen at some point, whether it’s President Obama, President (Hillary) Clinton, President McCain, President (Jeb) Bush, or President (Chelsea) Clinton. Dumping the eventual failure solely on the bad president’s character may be politically useful, but it’s factually repugnant.
After a space-filling bit about Sen. Obama transcending race, Krauthammer goes in for the kill:
The Obama campaign has sent journalists eight pages of examples of his reaching across the aisle in the Senate. I am not the only one to note, however, that these are small-bore items of almost no controversy — more help for war veterans, reducing loose nukes in the former Soviet Union, fighting avian flu and the like. Bipartisan support for apple pie is hardly a profile in courage.
On the difficult compromises that required the political courage to challenge one’s own political constituency, Obama flinched: the “Gang of 14” compromise on judicial appointments, the immigration compromise to which Obama tried to append union-backed killer amendments and, just last month, the compromise on warrantless eavesdropping that garnered 68 votes in the Senate. But not Obama’s.
There is truth there, but it’s what makes Sen. Obama the least offensive bad option we have. Remember, I’m not voting for any of the three remaining candidates. But I hope we’re inaugurating President Obama in January, precisely because his record of achieving legislative action is so weak. Limited government is the goal. If we can’t get that naturally, I’ll take the unnatural result of conflict and political weakness. Gridlock is good.
Krauthammer disagrees and makes the pathetic push for McCain:
Who, in fact, supported all of these bipartisan deals, was a central player in two of them and brokered the even more notorious McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform? John McCain, of course.
Yes, John McCain — intemperate and rough-edged, of sharp elbows and even sharper tongue. Turns out that uniting is not a matter of rhetoric or manner, but of character and courage.
I’ll momentarily pretend that a politician – especially one who sponsors legislation to limit a Constitutionally-protected right to free speech in direct conflict to “Congress shall make no law” – possesses character (and courage). How is being on the wrong side of an issue a qualification for the presidency? Clinton made the same mistake yesterday with this:
“Senator McCain will bring a lifetime of experience to the campaign, I will bring a lifetime of experience, and Senator Obama will bring a speech he gave in 2002,” a derisive Clinton said yesterday to the retired military officers at the Westin in Dupont Circle.
Five years into the Iraq mess, Clinton can’t admit her mistake and McCain wants to double-down. When forced to choose among three unacceptable people, I’ll take the guy who theorized sooner why the proposed action was a mistake. In government, a pre-mistake “No” is much more powerful than a post-mistake “oops”. It’s more important when we can’t even get the “oops”.